Case study

Is a pallet racking upgrade a worthy investment?

Dec 22, 2022 | Pallet Racking

Having served its purpose well for an extensive period of time, is your pallet racking system beginning to show signs of inability or deterioration? If so, it’s probably time to consider a pallet racking upgrade.

If the idea of a ‘pallet racking upgrade’ sounds a little drastic, you can breathe a sigh of relief because an upgrade doesn’t necessarily mean replacing the entire system. Some upgrades might simply mean the replacement of just part of the system, and often just a few adjustments is all that’s needed to make a positive difference. More importantly, the purpose of a pallet racking upgrade is to improve safety and performance in order to boost profitability, so an upgrade, large or small, is sure to be a worthy investment.

Warehouse fiited with carefully planned solutions

The dangers of set and forget

Once you have your pallet racking system in place, its easy to forget about that particular element of your operation and focus your attention to other things; however it is those “other things” that can be compromised by an untended pallet racking system.

When designed and implemented to meet your operational needs and maximise your space, the function of your pallet racking system goes far beyond the means of storing loaded pallets and becomes a solution that promotes productivity. This is a capacity not to be taken for granted and can only be sustained if the system remains conformed to operational needs and safety. For this reason the structure and the surrounding environment requires regular evaluation to help detect safety and operational concerns and allow for appropriate action before the integrity of the system becomes compromised.

Pallet Rackig Risk of Overloading!

There’s competence in consistent upgrades

Consistent upgrades are likely to be smaller, yet regular adjustments to your system, and are in line with maintaining safety and capability. These are modest improvements which have the potential to increase the lifespan of your pallet racking system because they target individual problematic areas before the rest of the system becomes hindered by them. Small upgrades can also be carried out to enhance the system’s ability to support changing needs. An example of this could be to add decking to the racks to enable support for new load types of a smaller size. Or you could upgrade your narrow aisle racking system to enhance operational speed by installing P&D stations to the rack ends in order to create a simple pallet drop-off and pick-up system. Small and regular upgrades can save a lot of money in the long run and could be a direct route to maintaining continual safety and high levels of productivity.

VNA Racking Pick and Deposit stations

The full-on performance boost

If your operation is suffering from significant inefficiencies, then a considerable upgrade of your current pallet racking set-up can actually turn that around. This is a comprehensive overhaul which involves most, if not all sections of the current system and entails purposeful modifications that will transform your operation and boost productivity. The positive impact would be largely noticeable to anyone who had become familiar with the previous system. A full upgrade would clearly be a sizable task however it can be less complex if your pallet racking incorporates a future proof design. As an example, a wide aisle racking system designed to be pallet live ready with essential components already built into the structure would allow the operation to progress as and when required without major effort and costs. A future proof layout is also beneficial because it enables you to accommodate new needs as and when required, without interference with the existing set-up. If specific change is anticipated, a future proof design is certainly advisable to enable minimal costs and disruption when it comes to extensive changes to your racking system.

Knowing when its time to upgrade your pallet racking system

A pallet racking upgrade is not likely to be considered unless there is a real basis for it, but what are the tell tale signs that your system would benefit from an upgrade? Whether major or minor, the need to upgrade your pallet racking system will become apparent when:

  • Safety is compromised

If ever there was a justifiable reason to upgrade your pallet racking system, safety is certainly one of them. Minimal changes are often all that’s required to reinstate or further improve the safety of your structure. Typical examples include:

The implementation of mesh decks – These are panels made up of wired mesh which can be fitted onto the rear of your existing pallet racking system in order to prevent goods from falling and causing injury or damage.

Replacing individual components – This could be a bent upright which became damaged as a result of a fork lift truck collision, or a deflected beam.

Installing weight load notices – Without adequate load notices to give guidance on correct weight load bearings there is a real risk of overload which has the potential to cause a collapse.

Incorporating protection ancillaries – These are placed to ensure the most vulnerable areas of the structure are protected against fork lift truck (FLT) collisions. As an example you can protect the end of aisle racks from passing FLT traffic if a protective barrier is placed and positioned to take the impact should the vehicle veer close to the rack ends. Upright protectors work in the same way, forming a barrier around each upright to reduce the risk posed by the FLT when operating within the working aisle.

Upright protectors and end barriers

Compromised safety can also result in the need for a large scale upgrade and this is more likely if:

You’re operating an aging system – Everything ages. Even a robust, steel pallet racking structure may one day begin to show signs of aging such as corrosion or extensive weakening. If this sounds like your pallet racking system, then a full upgrade is likely to be the next appropriate step, because an aging pallet racking system will likely cost you more in the long term, particularly because the risk of eventual collapse grows with each day of use.

Damage is extensive or constant – It could be that once repair work has been carried out in one area, damage occurs in a different section and so you find that you are constantly closing off dangerous sections for repair work. Or widespread deterioration has been detected during a racking inspection which is too big a problem for a simple repair. For such severe safety issues, an expansive upgrade is often the only sustainable solution and the only way to end to the constant cycle of disruption, and the heightened risk of a catastrophic collapse.

  • There’s a change in operational needs

An upgrade to your pallet racking system is often the only option when looking for ways to keep pace with ever-changing consumer habits and growth. The scale of upgrade will depend on the severity of the changes your warehouse operation is facing so it could consist of a full reconfiguration or just a few minor adjustments. For instance, changing a bay of pallet racking into suitable shelving will have no effect on the rest of the structure, nor will it compromise space, and yet you can achieve effective storage for your hand loaded product types. For operational changes of a much greater scale, a larger part of the structure may need to be adjusted in some way or even replaced with a more suitable type of racking solution. Sometimes it’s a case of implementing a new layout and reorganisation to help streamline processes and keep pace with new demands.

Incorporated Carton Live shelving

  • Space is becoming limited

The drawback of welcomed growth is the impact that it can have on the operational space which would be expected to accommodate more activity and inventory volume. If the space already seems to be operating at full capacity, and there is no obvious solution, you could look at strengthening capacity by revising your pallet racking set-up. Without having any effect on the footprint, there are a number of ways in which your current set-up can be improved to incorporate more storage, and this is through enhanced space utilisation. Examples of space optimising upgrades could include narrowing the aisle width between racking rows to allow row quantity to be increased. You could also make use of any unutilised height space by adding more levels to make your racks taller. Taller racks and narrower aisles can be achieved at the same time with a narrow aisle racking system, allowing better utilisation of both height and floor space. Swapping fixed aisle space for useful storage is another popular solution which can be achieved by pushing two rows back to back, creating a double deep racking system which makes way for more rows. Depending on how much capacity you need to gain, you can replace all fixed working aisles with a deep lane storage solution such as the push back racking system, where pallets are stored in a compact configuration and accessed from the outer face.

  • Relocating your operation

When relocating your operation, it is possible to dismantle your well maintained racking system and rebuild it in your new premises, although it is advisable that you appoint a professional racking company to carry out the project. For many however, a new facility represents a new opportunity to leave existing issues behind in order to operate more efficiently within a new space. Relocating is often a result of growth therefore the size of the space is typically larger than the previous space which means more opportunity to maximise capacity. For some this could mean a whole new racking system and for others it could mean new solutions in addition to the existing ones, or a completely new layout and configuration.

Racking system in new warehouse

Bespoke pallet racking upgrade design

The secret to pallet racking longevity is to keep track of the influences surrounding the racking system, both within the warehouse and the external environment. An upgrade or reconfiguration of your pallet racking system should be carefully thought out if you are to achieve the most effective and sustainable solutions. At WSL we are not just about implementing new solutions. If fact, a large proportion of our clients contact us for assistance as they look to improve inefficiencies in their current set up. Using our expert knowledge and experience along with our design and in-house manufacturing capabilities, WSL have been successful in improving countless operations, making them more productive and profitable with longevity.

If your operation is suffering from set-backs whether minor or major, speak to a WSL design technician today to begin the process of replacing inefficiency with efficiency in your warehouse operation. Call 0113 2045350 or email to arrange a site visit


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